ST. LOUIS — A judge has ordered a halt to evictions in St. Louis through the end of August, but a civil rights advocacy group says the moratorium should be extended because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Circuit Court Presiding Judge Rex Burlison issued the order Thursday. It does not apply to commercial property or properties where illegal drug activity occurred.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that St. Louis Sheriff Vernon Betts stopped serving eviction notices Tuesday after meeting with housing advocates.

ArchCity Defenders, a St. Louis-based nonprofit civil rights law firm, called the moratorium a “good first step” but urged a 120-day moratorium on evictions.

“Evictions jeopardize the safety and stability of vulnerable families, inflict trauma, and are incredibly difficult to recover from,” ArchCity Defenders said in a statement.

A previous moratorium on evictions in St. Louis began in March and continued through early July.

Cases unreported

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services reported 996 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus Friday, bringing the total since the pandemic began to 57,379.

The state also reported 21 new deaths. Missouri has seen 1,301 people die from COVID-19.

On Saturday, the state delayed reporting numbers because of “technology upgrades.”

Mask lawsuit

A southwestern Missouri attorney who sued Springfield over its ordinance requiring face coverings to slow the spread of COVID-19 is now suing Branson, too.

Kristi Fulnecky’s latest lawsuit was announced Thursday.

She is representing two businesses in Branson, the popular tourist town known for its live shows. Branson’s Board of Aldermen approved the mask ordinance July 28.

Branson City Attorney Chris Lebeck, in a statement, accused Fulnecky of “grandstanding.”

Fulnecky filed suit July 23 against Springfield, Mayor Ken McClure and several members of the City Council over its ordinance. Springfield is Missouri’s third-largest city, and Fulnecky is a former councilwoman who is running for mayor.

She also filed suit last month against the city’s public school district for its decision to not offer in-person classes five days a week when the school year begins. The district’s plan offers families the option to sign up for full-time online learning or two days of classroom time each week coupled with three days of online learning.